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Great Minds Think Alike

16 Jul

I had the single greatest round of golf in my life last week. As a sub-par (meaning poor, mostly WAY, WAY over par) golfer, I have only broken 90 twice, both at the Penn State golf courses, an 88 and an 89. Last Friday, I played with my father at a course in New Hampshire I hadn’t seen before, Laconia Country Club. Fortunately, my best-ball partner for the day, a buddy of my dad’s friend who had set us up with the tee-time, was a member of the club and knew the course well from playing multi-weekly rounds. With his detailed knowledge of the course, its hills, bunkers and doglegs. I had myself something similar to a professional caddy.

Normally I have to make observations, suggestions and corrections myself, in my head; Ok, its uphill so take an extra club, maybe the 7 instead of the 8 iron. Its breezy, make sure to ‘swing easy’. Usually, that doesn’t work. But last Friday, everything Craig told me to do, I did. That seems easy but in golf, a game as simple swinging at a stationary ball and trying to hit it forward into very large, nicely mowed lawn, nothing is harder. But each time Craig said “use your 7 iron here, swing nice and easy, you’ll want to be about 160 yds, the left side of the green is the safer shot, AND its where you’ll have the easiest putt”, or something similar, that was what I did. His knowledge of the course, my willingness to take his advice, and somehow, my clubs’ willingness to send the ball where I wanted it (for once!) combined to give me my lowest score ever, an 84.

Now I’ve told everyone I can about my incredible round. Its now out on the blogosphere as well. Unfortunately, before I could brag to a work associate of my dad’s, who is a scratch golfer (a ZERO handicap- meaning he’s like to get even par on an average day), he told me that he struggled yesterday, putted horribly, and shot a 76. So instead of boasting about the round of my life which was 8 strokes worse than his disappointing 4-over-par, we began to discuss the Clipboard+.

Mike turned the conversation right back to golf when he asked me if I knew who had invented the original clipboard. I had no idea, it seemed like clipboards just came to be. It solves a basic need for people working on their feet- a way to connect and organize papers, with a built in writing surface. A portable desk.

(Now, various sites online may have differing information on the inventor of the clipboard, some saying it was a man named “Clip”, or the inventor of the soap dispenser: George Henry Hohnsbeen, but as my dad’s friend Mike is a southern gentleman, the father of a Marine, the president of his company and recently carried my dad to a Member-Guest Club Championship with two consecutive scores of 3-under-par 69 this weekend, I’m inclined to trust his tale.)

A.W. TillinghastThe man who I was told invented the clipboard was A.W. Tillinghast, “Tilly” to his friends, though his golf-related accomplishments greatly overshadow almost all mention of this invention. Tillinghast was a one-time professional golfer who became one of the most prolific golf course architects of the early 20th century. His courses have been the sites of numerous professional and amateur championships, and his design style “The Course Beautiful” was applied to “produce something which will provide a true test of the game, and then consider every conceivable way to make it as beautiful as possible.”

As they say: necessity is the mother of invention.

Apparently, surveying countless lands, designing and redesigning over 250 golf courses, writing short stories of fictional golfers and hundreds of golfing articles and course design handbooks over a 30 year career, the guy needed to keep his papers in order. And thus (allegedly) the clipboard was born.

Kevin MerliniSimilar necessity brought Clipboard+ founder and all-around good guy Kevin Merlini to design the Clipboard+. With modern mobile technology increasingly useful for our work, using a clipboard and a mobile device became the problem Tilly had with his papers (unless you want to clamp down on your iPad, scratch the glass and have it fall out, I suppose).

But these aren’t the only similarities between the two clipboard innovators.

Tilly was born in Philadelphia in 1874. Kevin was born and raised just outside of that very same City of Brotherly Love. Tillinghast designed famous courses like Winged Foot, Baltusrol, Bethpage and Shawnee (as well as consulting or surveying over 700). Kevin caddied at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, an old hangout of Tilly’s youth, and a course he redesigned in 1922. Kevin also learned how to play the sport at Tillinghast’s Cedarbrook Hill Golf Course in Wyncote,PA, and has played at a number of the courses in the Philadelphia areas Tillinghast was involved in designing.

Tillinghast Plays

In 1904, Tillinghast lost his US Amateur match to fellow future course architect, Chandler Egan, when Egan’s ball took a lucky bounce of a tree at Baltusrol. When Tillinghast designed the new courses at Baltusrol in 1918, one of his first acts was to remove that same tree that had cost him his match. In golf, it always pays to be patient; to wait for the wind to die down, take a second practice swing before a big putt, for a wife to not be upset when her husband played an extra nine, etc. Now, maybe I’ll have to become a course architect, that way I could go back everywhere I’ve played and chop down all those goddamn trees that have gotten in my balls’ way.

(If you have any additional information- especially if it contradicts what I’ve written- on the clipboard’s true origins, please comment below.

Like most people, I love to be corrected)

Related Posts

Where are we headed? Who will lead us there?

27 Jun
Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla

I was recently introduced to the work of a great man, Nikola Tesla, through a TED talk given by Marco Tempest, a brilliant showman as well as a very insightful magician. Through engaging and enlightening multi-media storytelling, Tempest’s TED talk tells Tesla’s tale (aha…alliteration!) with a pop-up book and a tribute to classical Tenagra-Theater. Further research of Tesla had me fascinated with his work (alternating current, remote-controls, radio, x-rays, etc.), and also it got me thinking about the past, the present, and the future.

The Great Minds

da Vinci, Newton, Ben Franklin, Edison, Tesla, Howard Stark, Steve Jobs… all great men with greater minds whose imagination, ingenuity and understanding helped to change the way we interact with each other and the world around us.

Acme Corp.

ACME Corp.

(though Howard Stark is a comic book character, Stark Industries supplies the Marvel world with nearly everything imaginable-from Flesh-Repairing Serum to the technology for the Iron Man suit- much like the Acme Corporation does for Wile E. Coyote).

These men were thinkers, tinkerers and teachers, but were also students of the world, and the beneficiaries of new information at exciting times in human history. Throughout mankind’s time on earth, periods of increased availability and the spread of new information, ideas and ideals and the increased communication between cultures have yielded great expansions of knowledge and superior technology.

Time and Again

Vitruvian Man (Censored)

During a period of convivencia (Coexistence- a time when Jews, Muslims and Catholics lived together in relative peace) in 12th century Spain, increased interaction between Western Europe and Islamic and Byzantine/Hellenistic cultures brought about a lesser-known Renaissance, with advances in education, navigation, medicine and industry. During the Italian Renaissance, along with a greater interest in retaining and revitalizing classical knowledge, mankind focused on expanding human capability, as 15th century humanist and (hehe) “Renaissance Man” Leon Battista Alberti declared – “Men can do all things, if they will”. In the 18th century, there was the Enlightenment. After the Industrial Revolution, Edison and Tesla’s electrical inventions helped us understand, transmit and utilize energy, and illuminated our dark nights. Today, we can’t take a step without seeing Jobs’ Apple devices bringing us ever closer to each other no matter how far apart we are.

With almost complete globalization, an unprecedented amount of available information and the immediacy of our world today, its clear we are in another period of great knowledge, cultural exchange and brilliant ideas. Are we not the beneficiaries of a modern Renaissance? There are no limits to what we can know, problems we can fix, things we can do. Who will pick up where Steve Jobs left off? What’s next for mankind? How will we change not only the way we work, but, to quote Tupac: “Change the way we eat, change the way we live, and change the way we treat each other”?

(Also- if you enjoyed Marco Tempest’s TED talk about Nikola Tesla, check out another great one by the technology proficient magic man about the art of deception, the deception of art, and the magic and truth in each)

Clipboard+ Launches Kickstarter

19 Jun

Today, Clipboard+ launched our Kickstarter campaign to crowd-fund $10,000. For those of you unfamiliar with the recent crowd-funding craze check out, Simplfy Reality’s post, Kickstarter Explained. If you have any additional questions about Kickstarter or Clipboard+ products please feel free to comment or email us at

Thank you

SparkPlug@Penn State

Kevin Merlini – Founder of Clipboard+ posted on SparkPlug@Penn State this morning about our recent launch. Below is an excerpt from his post.

“It is definitely a relief to have our project go live, I’m really excited to see how things go from here. In the meantime we will be focused on promoting our project and trying to get the word out to as many people as possible. If anyone would like to talk to me more about my experience with this project, or is interested in pursuing a Kickstarter of their own, I would be happy to talk to you. Just shoot me an email at”

For more from Kevin about his experiences with Kickstarter and founding Clipboard+ stay tuned with Changing the Way You Work and Sparkplug@PSU’s blog.

Lion Launch Pad

The Lion Launch Pad was an integral part in the success of Clipboard+. A special thanks to Liz Kisenwether and Robert Macy. Below is an a description of Lion Launch Pad.

The Lion Launch Pad (LionLP) is a business accelerator program for Penn State undergraduate students and student teams.  Based at Penn State University‘s University Park Campus, our program was created to help undergraduate student entrepreneurs convert innovative product and service concepts into viable start-up companies. Our vision of success is to have a team develop product, get revenue or funding, and move to next-level incubator programs.

Learning Factory

The Learning Factory helped Clipboard+ bring the initial designs for the Clipboard+ iPad and Clipboard+ Smartphone to life. Below is their mission.

“Our mission is to help bring the real-world into the classroom by providing engineering students with practical hands-on experience through industry-sponsored capstone design projects. In 2010/11, we completed a record 126 projects for 80 different sponsors and nearly 600 out of the 1460 engineering students that Penn State graduated participated in such a project.”

Pennsylvania State University

As students of Penn State University, we feel it is very important to thank the institution that gave Clipboard+ a chance for higher education. Thank you to all professors, peers and alumni for your care and support! We Are!!!

Make sure to follow Clipboard+ on Kickstarter and stay up to date with Changing the Way You Work. Thanks for reading!